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Paper trail benefits disputed

A pair of Maryland professors hired by the State Board of Elections to study voter-verification equipment told legislators yesterday that the technology makes it more difficult to vote, increases the time it takes to participate and decreases the privacy with which votes are cast.

The study of more than 800 Maryland voters using on four different types of machines found that "while a paper trail or some other verification device may sound good in the abstract, it may cause serious problems in the real world of voters and elections," according to Paul S. Herrnson of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship.

Ann Marimow

Legislation to require the state's voting systems to produce a paper record is working its way through the House. Advocates for a paper trail say the record is critical to voter confidence in elections.

Linda Schade, executive director of True VoteMD, said the study was flawed because it did not consider an optical scan system that uses a paper ballot.

"Voters in Maryland are tired of voting on an insecure system," she said.

But Donald F. Norris, director of the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research, said a poll he conducted in January of 800 registered voters found "no crisis in confidence with the current system."

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 9, 2006; 5:12 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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